Jessica Faith Marshall took the microphone and addressed a fashion show crowd at Benold’s Jewelers during Austin Fashion Week recently with confidence and charisma. She explained the inspiration behind her new Faith by Jessica fall/winter 2013 collection as if she’d been doing it all her life. But the fashion designer is just 13.
While most teenagers are awkwardly fumbling through school life, Jessica has been turning her passion into a business. But, then again, Jessica’s never been an average kid. At 5 years old she started sketching designs. By age 8, she began creating garments on her own sewing machine. Jessica’s first fashion show was when she was in fifth grade.
“She’s very motivated,” Jessica’s mother, Kristy Marshall, says.
The Cedar Park Public Library agreed to host Jessica’s first fashion show. Kristy Marshall, along with tutors, homeschools the budding designer, and the arrangement has helped her thrive in fashion.
Jessica did attend public school during some grades but says she never felt she could relate to classmates her age, especially because fashion designing was so foreign to them. These days she surrounds herself by friends who do share her interest, like models or fashion bloggers.
“She has a vision, and she’s willing to work hard,” Kristy Marshall says. As a mom, she says she fully supports her daughter but doesn’t push or arrange things for her. “She coordinated all of the (fashion show) models herself, the website and publicity. If she wants something, then she’ll find a way. If she’s that driven, I’ll support it.”
Jessica’s elegant eye for design has been refining in the past few years, thanks to some guidance from the local fashion community. When she applied to participate in fashion week about a year ago, she wasn’t quite ready to be a showcasing designer. But AFW founder Matt Swinney saw her potential and paired her up with a mentor — noted fashion designer Linda Asaf.
“She gave me a lot of helpful advice and encouraged me to stick to my design vision when creating my collection,” Jessica says. The Austin Fashion Week staff, she says, also has offered constructive criticism that has helped her improve. In December 2012, she sold her Holiday collection at Gallery D boutique on Second Street.
Her fall/winter 2013 collection was inspired by the city at night. Before moving to Austin, the Marshall family lived in New Jersey and often visited New York City. Although she was very young, Jessica remembers the thrill of the city life. That’s why she’s drawn to designing for a glamorous woman. Her sophisticated evening wear also incorporates some classy separates such as jackets, skirts and shorts.
Jessica says she’s not a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl. “I love dressing up, shopping and watching fashion documentaries.”
She’s working with pattern makers, seamstresses and manufacturers as she builds her fashion company. While Jessica directed a fashion photo shoot recently, her mom had to take a step back and observe as her daughter took on this typically adult leadership role. “How is this even possible?” Kristy Marshall thought at the time. “It was overwhelming. Sometimes I ask myself if I am doing the right thing, but then I see that she has a God-given talent that’s opened up her life, and I know it’s a blessing.”
Jessica says she hopes to return to New York one day to formally study fashion and immerse herself in one of the world’s fashion capitals. In the meantime, she’s not just dreaming about her future — she’s making it happen.
Learn more about Faith by Jessica online at www.faithbyjessica.com.